If everyone participates in the gatherings of the church then how do we avoid people teaching heresy? That seems to be a common question posed to me about every member participation. It is a good question, and it makes sense. The problem is that I believe it is based on some faulty assumptions. I will discuss these over the next few days.
A fourth faulty assumption is that the hearers have no responsibility. Why is there such a fear of false teaching? Because there is a greater fear that people will believe it. If the assumption were that the members of the body could distinguish between truth and falsehood then the fear of heresy wouldn’t really be that big of a deal. This is obviously not the assumption. the expectation is that the hearers are not responsible to determine that what they hear is right or wrong. This is very dangerous and relates largely to my point about trusting the pastor. The church hires a man to do the teaching on Sunday mornings and the assumption is that they will for the most part believe what he says. The hope is that this man is honest and accurate in his teaching, but there is no promise of that. Each person must discern what they are taught and make sure that it reflects the teaching of Scripture whether what they hear is taught by an ordained minister or an untrained layman (I use these terms for illustration, I do not hold to any real distinctions between believers). Blindly following a pastor or anyone else could (and has) easily lead to embracing heretical teaching.